Thursday, November 09, 2006


There has been a bit of a hubub this week at my med school. Last week we had a scheduled session on "career counseling" which not many people attended. I was personally at the family medicine forum in Quebec City representing my school and learning about family medicine promotion initiatives for the coming year. Other classmates were studying, sleeping, doing observerships, cramming in a little bit of exercise, or generally doing anything but going to this lecture. We then got an email later that week from the doctor who was giving the lecture complaining that nobody showed up and telling us that it was unprofessional of us all to miss it.

I wrote him a message saying that I was sorry I had missed it but the lecture only went onto our schedule 2 weeks earlier and I'd already booked my train tickets to attend this conference. Other individuals sent him emails explaining that they preferred to be doing the things they were actually doing at the time and didn't think the lecture was that helpful in the curriculum (those who were concerned about their future career probably went). Then Dr. Career counselor proceeded to flip out and send an email to the entire medical school explaining how our class is full of unprofessional assholes and taking people's private emails to him and cutting bits out of them to demonstrate that we're assholes. He didn't name any names within our class, but it left me scratching my head... Isn't that a bit unprofessional? Isn't it unprofessional to add a lecture to our schedule on short notice and then take it personally when people have scheduled other things for that time slot?

I think all in all this is a very bad situation. If I was giving the lecture, yes, I'd be pissed if nobody showed up. But, I wouldn't send an email to the whole medical school berating the individuals who didn't come and complaining about "unprofessional behavior". Counseling should be optional and on an as per need basis. Lectures on career counseling don't seem very effective to me. But, alas, I didn't go so I have no idea what he said.

We're grown-ups. Everyone in my class already has an undergraduate degree (or at least 3 years of one) and we should be responsible for our own education. The taking attendance malarky that has happened at this medical school lately is stupid. If people learn better at their desk at their house, so be it. If they can pass the exams and interact clinically with patients at an acceptable standard, what's to say that they aren't going to be as good a physician as any of the rest of us? What use is it wasting one's time in a lecture if that is not the way that one learns? Ultimately, one will not pass unless they learn the material, so let us learn it as we see fit.


Nathan said...
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Nathan said...

Exactly. My school doesn't require attendance, and so I have not attended a single lecture since halfway through first year. I think I've learned better for it. The point is to learn the material and apply it. Lecture doesn't do that for some people. And professionalism is, I think, something innate, it's just character in uniform. You can't teach that. You've either got it or you don't.

Anonymous said...

'Professionalism' is the word they're going to use for now and forever to get to you when they're pissed off, whether you're at fault, they're at fault, or nobody in particular is at fault but the situation inconvenienced them.

Arrived five minutes late for a ward round on the one day the doctor was actually on time? Unprofessional. Didn't respond to the beep you never got because the entire paging system was down? Unprofessional.

My group and I once waited half an hour for a lecture to start before leaving the venue. The next day, I got a phone call from the irate professor, demanding to know where we'd been. I wrote him a letter explaining that we'd waited in the designated venue for half an hour, and had then left, assuming nobody was coming. He'd had neither the courtesy to inform us that he was going to be late nor that the venue had changed. His response to my letter? Unprofessional.

You'll never get away from it.

azotemia said...

When I was in Vet School we had the same problem. Our Dean had told us at the beginning of our schooling that we have to protect and support one another. Then one day when he was teaching our ethics class, a classmate overslept the day his group may have had to give a presentation. We all did it every once in awhile and some more frequently then others. Well, the Dean kept saying his name as though he could make him magically appear when called. The Dean started demanding that we tell him who else was missing. He kept yelling at us and demanding that we rat out our friends and classmates who also didn't show up for class. He called his office to have them rush over a roster of our class so he could take attendance and deal with those individuals who were not there. He told us that class would not end until he knew who else was not there. He continued in his unprofessional titrate calling us all unprofessional and unethical for not tattling. Finally some chick in the front row sang and gave up like 10 people. She had no friends for the next 2 years. I don't know what he would have done if the roster had arrived first - he was threatening to change the curriculum to keep us from clinics until Senior year. From that point on he required that the professors take attendance in class and turn it in to the Dean every day. We also had to call in sick to the Deans office and produce doctors notes and death certificates. It was like prison. I felt his actions were very unprofessional. We would then sign in our friends who were late. Then the class developed a system of hiding backpacks before class in the projector room so that you could leave if you just had to study or take a nap in the library. Some friends in the back row would slip out of their chairs and sleep on the floor and the profs were none the wiser.